Watford 2, Brighton 0: Pereyra's delightful double helps Hornets to opening day win

Roberto Pereyra's delightful double gave Watford a routine three points as Brighton & Hove Albion endured an opening-day defeat this afternoon.

Watford's Roberto Pereyra wheels away after beating Maty Ryan for his second goal against Brighton & Hove Albion. Picture by PW Sporting Photography
Watford's Roberto Pereyra wheels away after beating Maty Ryan for his second goal against Brighton & Hove Albion. Picture by PW Sporting Photography

The winger crashed home a thunderous first-half volley and then curled home another smart finish after the break at Vicarage Road in the Premier League.

It was a disappointing start to the season for Albion, who were far from their best and failed to really test home stopper Ben Foster.

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They were sloppy in possession and gifted the ball away far too often in a match that also saw captain Bruno limp off inside half an hour with what looked like a hamstring problem.

Anthony Knockaert goes down with muted appeals for a Brighton & Hove Albion penalty. Picture by PW Sporting Photography

Ahead of kick-off, all eyes were on Chris Hughton's first selection of the season after a busy summer transfer window.

Full-back Bernardo was handed his debut at full-back, but club record signing Alireza Jahanbakhsh, along with fellow summer additions Yves Bissouma and Leon Balogun, were named on the bench at Vicarage Road.

Albion were without Florin Andone because of a groin injury and Colombian Jose Izquierdo was not ready to return after his World Cup involvement.

There was an early let off for Albion as after Solly March won a corner, Bernardo gave the ball away on the edge of the box and Watford broke through Pereyra, but Christian Kabasele tripped over the ball, ending a promising attack.

Pascal Gross attempts to close down the ball. Picture by PW Sporting Photography

On nine minutes, a half chance for Albion saw Davy Propper's cross just too high for Glenn Murray, but straight down the other end Maty Ryan palmed away Andre Gray's effort from a long ball forward.

Ryan pulled off a superb save to deny Troy Deeney the opening on 17 minutes. After a bit of ricochet in the box from another counter-attack, the ball fell to an unmarked Deeney, six yards out and somehow Ryan beat away his shot.

Nice feet from Anthony Knockaert on the edge of the box then saw him lay back to Bruno and the cross saw Dale Stephens volley across goal and just wide. Soon after, Knockaert went down softly in the box and muted appeals from the winger for a penalty were waved away.

The deadlock was broken on 35 minutes and it came from a cracking volley from Pereyra. A deep corner flew to the back of the box and the unmarked winger crashed a thunderous volley into the top corner despite a Ryan hand.

And that was how it remained until half-time as Albion failed to create any real opportunities to test Ben Foster in the Watford goal.

The Hornets should have extended their lead just four minutes into the second period as Jose Holebas' free kick saw Kabasele run past a flat-footed Albion defence and onto the ball, but he headed over from seven yards with just Ryan to beat.

They didn't however, have long to wait to add to the scoreline. Knockaert gave the ball away and Holebas managed to find Pereyra. He cut into the box and curled into the fine corner for another tidy finish.

Bissouma came on for his debut just before the hour, replacing Gross and ten minutes later he showed a glimpse of what he can do, beating two players across the box, but dragging wide.

Jahanbakshs was also given the final 20 minutes from the bench, but by that time the game seemed already gone as the home side managed out the remaining minutes without any major problems.

Watford: Foster, Janmaat, Deeney, Cathcart, Doucoure, Gray (Success 74), Hughes (Sema , Holebad, Kabasele, Capoue, Pereyra (Femenia 87). Unused subs: Gomes, Prodl, Mariappa, Masina.

Albion: Ryan, Bruno (Bong 26), Duffy, Dunk, Stephens, Knockaert, Gross (Bissouma 59), Murray, March (Jahanbakshs 71), Propper, Bernardo. Unused subs: Button, Balogun, Kayal, Locadia.

Referee: Jonathan Moss.